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HKAC Art Shop Inspiration series x Lingnan University 50th Anniversary Lecture Series (2017-2018)
Towards an Activist Praxis in Performing Arts Research

Date & Time:
30/03/2018  From 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

HKAC Art Shop Inspiration series x Lingnan University 50th Anniversary Lecture Series (2017 – 2018)

Towards an Activist Praxis in Performing Arts Research
In the past four decades, there has been a humanistic turn in performing arts research. Activist scholars have called for the development of research strategies that privilege the voices and the concerns of the communities they study. In line with this call, this presentation argues for the move towards participatory dialogic approaches in two community projects in Penang: (i) revitalization of the endangered Potehi glove puppet theatre and (ii) musical-theatre for young people that promotes cultural interaction for peace building. Central to the strategies is the collaboration and partnership of the researcher with the tradition bearers, students, members of the community including young people in all aspects of research, documentation and performance. This type of people-centered collaborative research approach strives for more horizontal and equal relations between the researcher and the research subjects. This paper assesses the potentials, tensions, and contradictions emerging from the encounter of community engagement and scholarly activism, and calls for a change in the training of performing arts researchers.

Tan Sooi Beng is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. She is the author of Bangsawan: A Social and Stylistic History of Popular Malay Opera (Oxford University Press, 1993), and co-author of Music of Malaysia: Classical, Folk and Syncretic Traditions (Routledge, 2017) and Longing for the Past, the 78 RPM Era in Southeast Asia (Dust-to-Digital 2013), which won the joint SEM Bruno Nettl Prize, 2014. Tan is the Editor-in-Chief of Wacana Seni, Journal of Arts Discourse, serves in the Advisory Editorial Board of Asian Music (USA), and is an elected Board Member of the International Council for Traditional Music and the Asia-Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology. She is actively engaged in the practice of community theatre for young people and the revitalization of the multicultural heritage of Penang.

Soo Ryon Yoon is an assistant professor of performance studies in the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Her research interests in performance, Korea-Africa relations, and racial politics in contemporary South Korea have shaped her manuscript-in-progress tentatively titled, Choreographing Affinities: Performance and Transnational Blackness in Korea. Soo Ryon Yoon’s writings are published or forthcoming in <비틈> (web), Theatre Journal, Journal of Contemporary Research in Dance (当代舞蹈艺术研究), positions: asia critique, Dancing East Asia (Emily Wilcox and Katherine Mezur, eds), ASAP/J, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and was previously a postdoctoral associate in the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University.

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McAulay Studio, LB/F Hong Kong Arts Centre


Free admission


Organised by the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University; Co-organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre


Conducted in English

Past Event:

14/11/2017 7pm - 8pm

The Ecology of Images
The idea that ecology is a form of critical and unorthodox thinking that urgently addresses the crises of our time finds a number of parallels in contemporary cinema. Films like Jia Zhengke’s Still Life, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, or Tsai Mingliang’s Stray Dogs develop what might be called an ‘ecology of images.’ These films do not so much deal directly with ecological crisis as with the less perceptible social-political forms and affective structures—the ‘slow violence’-- that bring about such a crisis. In their treatment of the cinematic image, these films advance a kind of ecological thinking in their own right.

Ackbar Abbas is internationally renowned for his writings on Hong Kong and China. His book, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance (published in 1997 by University of Minnesota Press) is a path-breaking work in urban studies and cultural theory. His scholarship spans a range of cultural practices, from cinema to architecture to the visual arts. He has been writing on art and visual culture in China, and speaking at important international art events like the Sydney, Venice and Moscow Biennales on Asian art. Before moving to UCI in 2006, he was Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. He is also currently Adjunct Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University.

Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance

Prof Stephen CK Chan
Stephen Chan is Professor of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, and Chair of the international Association for Cultural Studies. He was the founding Head of LU’s Cultural Studies Department in 2000. Chan received his BA and MPhil (Chinese/Comparative Literature) from University of Hong Kong, and PhD in Literature from University of California, San Diego. Published on Hong Kong culture, film, literature, education and cultural studies, Chan’s current interests are cultural politics and identity formation; martial arts cinema; pedagogy, performance and creativity studies. He edited “Hong Kong at a Crossroads” for Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (vol. 16, no. 3, 2015).

2/3/2018 6:45pm - 8pm

Anxious States: Culture and Politics in Singapore and Hong Kong
Since Singapore and Hong Kong are the two most economically successful, ethnic Chinese dominant city-states in Asia, comparisons have always been made between these locations. Fundamental to the Singaporean collective social life is a realization that ‘the world does not need Singapore but Singapore needs the world’. The demand for immigrants to supplement the small local workforce is constant, adding complexity to the domestic multi-ethnic population and geopolitical situation, and confounding the processes of individual and national identity formation.  The constant demand of physical space threatens to erase heritage, social memories and individual biographies, yet simultaneously encourages a progressive future-mindedness. The prevalent social anxieties undergird a wide political consensus that emphasizes stability, cohesion and political order. This has engendered a ‘politics of the middle ground’, favoured by the long governing single-party dominant parliament, that marginalizes liberal individual rights and individuals who falls out of the ‘middle’. Are such anxieties broadly shared by Hong Kong and its people? And, if they are, how might some of these anxieties be culturally and politically expressed, and in what institutional structural configurations? 

Chua Beng Huat is currently Head, Urban Studies, Yale-NUS College and Professor, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. He has served concurrently as Provost Chair Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Science (2009-2017), Research Leader, Cultural Studies in Asia Research Cluster, Asia Research Institute (2000-2015); Convenor Cultural Studies Programmes (2008-2013) and Head, the Department of Sociology (2009-2015), National University of Singapore. He is co-executive editor of the journal, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.

His book publications include: as author, The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s Financial District (1989), Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore (1995,1997) and Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore (1997), Life is Not Complete without Shopping (2003), Structure, Audience and Soft Power in East Asian Pop Culture (2012) and, Political Liberalism Disavowed: communitarianism and state capitalism in Singapore (2017); as editor, Consumption in Asia: lifestyles and identities (2000), Communitarian Politics in Asia (2004), Elections as Popular Culture in Asia (2007), (Co-editor, Chen Kuan-Hsing) Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Reader (2007), East Asia Pop Culture: Analysing the Korean Wave (2008) and Port Cities in Asia and Europe (2008).

Tejaswini Niranjana is Professor and Head, Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. She is co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, which offered an innovative inter-disciplinary PhD programme from 2000-2012. She is the current Chair of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society.

She is the author of Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context (Berkeley, 1992), Mobilizing India: Women, Music and Migration between India and Trinidad (Durham, 2006), and a forthcoming monograph on musicophilia in Mumbai. Her most recent edited volume, with Wang Xiaoming, is Genealogies of the Present: Situating Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (Delhi, 2015).

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